Defining “White Privilege” and Why We MUST Care.

I’m just going to jump right in. This was a hard post to write and I’m sure, for many, it will be hard to read. I don’t have all the right words and phrases and I know there will be many posts this week that are much more eloquent and thoughtful than mine but I can not stay silent. It has been an ugly week in social media land and it will continue to get worse. So read this post, or don’t. But please, read something.

I was ignorant and had unknown racist tendencies until beginning the adoption process. It wasn’t until I began to really listen to the comments people were making towards our adoption of a child of color that I began to wake up.  I would hear people say things to us about Oliver like:

  • Oh, he will be so smart and probably really good at playing instruments…you know, cause he’s Asian.
  • Look out when it’s time for him to drive, hahaha, cause you know Asian drivers…
  • Will he speak English or Mandarin when he grows up?
  • Will he only eat rice?
  • Can he say his “r’s?”
  • Why would you adopt one of them when there are so many of our own kids who need families?
  • China is trying to destroy us. Why are you paying the enemy to bring one of their kids here?

Yup. All statements made by white people.  My blood would boil. My heart would race. I would cry in my room. Very few comments were spoken in hatred, but all were spoken in ignorance, even “loving” ignorance.

I began to remember saying things like “flied lice” as a kid, unknowingly mocking my Asian brothers and sisters. All sorts of small moments and memories began to surface in my heart and brain and I realized there were some really gross things there that I had NO IDEA were inside me. I have spent the last year reading and learning and repenting.

One of the things I’ve learned a lot about, these past couple of years, is a concept called “white privilege.” I had never heard this phrase before beginning to bringing Ollie home but now it rings in my head often. I want to quickly define it and give some simple examples of it to help clarify, what can be, a confusing concept. Especially to those of us living under it.

White Privilege

I have read countless blogs written by white mothers with adopted black children who have to enforce rules in their home like: 1. No wearing hoodies at night, and during the day, never put the hood on. 2. No playing with toy guns. Ever. Not even water guns. Not even with your white friends. The fact that I will never have to have those conversations with my white kids is an example of “white privilege.”

The fact that if I had wanted a white baby doll for my daughters birthday I could have gone anywhere but had to order my daughter’s Asian baby doll online because no stores in my community sold them is an example of “white privilege.”

When my kids need a band-aid and I give them a “flesh colored” one, it matches their skin. White privilege.

When my husband goes for a jog at night I don’t worry that he will be labeled as a “suspicious character” and make people nervous. White privilege.

When I need shampoo, I go to Target and shop in the aisle labeled “hair care.” My black friends have to find the aisle labeled “ethnic.” White privilege.

On a larger scale, I know that when my husband gets a job, there is never a question as to whether it was because of his color. White privilege.

In our daily lives, white privilege is so subtle we don’t see it. Often times they are things that aren’t inherently wrong (band-aids and baby dolls) but that doesn’t mean they are good and that they don’t play into a bigger evil. This is the enemy’s way of desensitizing us so that when the big and obvious examples come up, we explain them away.

Here are some states from Shea Watts’ article:

  • Research shows that white people are not profiled or even stopped as disproportionately or often as persons of color.
  • People of color only make up 30% of the total population but they represent 60% of the U.S. prison population. (African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.)
  • According to research, people with “black-sounding names” have to send out 50% more job applications than whites just to get a call back.

Growing up the statistics of incarcerated blacks were explained away as being because blacks were more likely to commit crimes. This implied that black people were more violent and prone to make bad decisions than white people.

This is not a new theory. 300 years ago when our forefathers were establishing a new country, they were shipping in boatloads of mothers and fathers and sons and daughters from Africa to be slaves. The white men abused them in every way possible, justifying their actions by saying their slaves were somehow sub-human. They said that they were more prone to violence and that their brains were too small to comprehend anything other then the basics. This is sick and one of the most disturbing and horrifying and shameful parts of our history as Americans. It is hard to even write about without getting emotional.

Racism is taught. It is passed down from generation to generation. The same lies the enemy fed our predecessors 300 years ago are still alive and trickling down today. They’ve morphed, of course, because that’s what the enemy does to keep his scheme relevant. So, though slavery is gone and the KKK is widely viewed as disgusting and evil, things like “flesh” colored band-aids and “don’t wear hoodies” are still very real and creep into our rose colored glasses so gently, we don’t notice.

Satan is smart, folks. Don’t be ignorant to his handy-work. Don’t shut off because it’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable or not the experience you’ve had and, therefore, some how invalid. Don’t do it. Even if you don’t understand and can’t relate, please listen. Please acknowledge. Please mourn. Please be willing to learn. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to confess and repent. Our kids are watching us react and not-react to what is happening in the world around us. Let’s walk out our calling as “Ministers of Reconciliation” and “Ambassadors of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (MSG)

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

Maybe this conversation is confusing to you or you are still unsure of how “white privilege” applies to your life.  Maybe you feel overwhelmed and afraid to get caught up into a conversation that quickly turns to an argument. Maybe this post makes you angry because you completely disagree. Either way, I would encourage you to read and follow LaTasha Morrison. She is an amazing woman who God has called to bring racial reconciliation to the Church and to teach all of us how to build bridges and tear down walls for the Kingdom of God.

Lord, come soon.

One thought on “Defining “White Privilege” and Why We MUST Care.

  1. Hi! I found you through hope*writers and I’m so glad I did! I loved your post about Simone Biles, but then I found this one and I appreciate you writing it. I know it’s not easy, as these are similar topics I talk about on my blog, but I’m so glad I’m not alone in talking about them!


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